There could not have been a possibly better exhibition of Mithali Raj’s power hitting than her imperious 97 against Malaysia in the opening contest of women’s Asia Cup. Engineering an inning from the very top draw, India’s ODI captain Mithali Raj swept, cut, drove and danced down the track to throw Malaysian bowlers out of the attack in a T20 form-reviving half-century.
Mithali Raj’s magic
The Women’s Asia cup is largely being perceived as a great platform to check one’s T20 form before the all to play for big-stage Women’s T20 arrives later in the year. It’s, therefore, a great opportunity for many exciting teams to challenge one another in a clear 6-way fight to claim the crown including the likes of defending champions India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Thailand.
But in a day that totally belonged to the batswomen, Mithali Raj owned the contest phenomenally. In striking a whopping 13 fours and 1 six, Mithali’s heroics proved why it’s one thing to open the batting and pile on the runs and something quite other, to bat till the end.
Contributions came from captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s end too who managed a strokeful 32 off 23 before a run-out truncated her stay. Meanwhile, promoted to no.3 in the order, Pooja Vastrakar, arguably brought in to multiply fireworks with the bat made just 16. At all these times, Mithali Raj stood there undeterred and continued to pile on the runs. Her blunt blade was enough for curtailing the turn the spinners carried.
Malaysia endure a day of hostility
While India’s batting performance was magnificent, their counterparts had a sad, sullen day. When was the last time you heard a T20 side being bowled out for 27? One of the big breakthroughs would come early in the second over itself as Christina Bae would fall to Vastrakar, who picked a 3-for. Fluent opener Yusrine Yaakop would fall in early and an exposed Malaysian batting order would soon present itself as a lame sitting duck.
A day of lean fielding, poor bowling and absolutely spineless batting would see Malaysia appearing too weak for the defending champions of the Women’s Asia Cup.
Was 169 a truly mighty task?
But even as India humbled their hosts- listless and clueless- it remained to be seen as to why the Harmanpreet-led side couldn’t plunder a few more runs.
It’s got to be addressed that often under no circumstances is a 170 unchaseable score in T20s. Can Mithali Raj’s heroics inspire other batswomen to rise to the occasion as well?